I was raised in a rural village in the Department of Chiquimula in Guatemala. My father raised coffee and my mother taught school. It was a wonderful time for me. But one day, when I was ten, a group of soldiers came to my house. They beat and tortured my father in front of my family. They took my father away and we never saw him again.
From Despair to Hope
My response to this traumatic loss was deep bitterness and anger, sometimes expressed violently until, after many years, I turned to the God my mother always called me to and laid my anger down. God provided two communities, one Quaker and one Mennonite, that surrounded me with love and I began the process of healing, eventually understanding and embracing the nonviolent way of Jesus and the Biblical story of justice, reconciliation and peace – the Reign of God.
Service in Guatemala
For me it is very special to serve in Guatemala City as the leader of SEMILLA Latin American Anabaptist Seminary, an institution founded, owned, and led by Central Americans who, at the height of 20th-century violence, discovered and embraced for themselves Anabaptist theology, the nonviolent way of Jesus in the midst of poverty, oppression, and violence. I find continued healing and blessing as part of a community of educators that provides practical and empowering Biblical and theological education, with a focus on nonviolent transformation, for as many as 800 adult students each year, leaders and servants in impoverished communities throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
Learn More about SEMILLA Opportunities
I invite you to learn more about SEMILLA, especially our CASAS (Central American Study and Service) program that provides Spanish language study (online or in-person), cultural immersion, and service opportunities, from a peace-church perspective. For more information on short and long-term educational opportunities, including learning tours and sabbatical opportunities for pastors and educators contact us.
God bless you and lead you in the paths of peace.
Willi Hugo Pérez Lemus, President and Rector